CBD oil is everywhere these days, from health food stores to pharmacies. You can even find CBD edibles on food trucks and CBD cocktails in some bars across the country. With its sudden explosion of popularity in recent years, you may be wondering: “What is CBD oil, and why is everyone using it?” Let’s take a closer look.

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What Is CBD Oil?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is the result of extracting this cannabinoid from the flowers, stems, and leaves of the cannabis plant using butane, supercritical CO2, or other solvents. Many health-conscious users prefer CBD oil that has been extracted using supercritical CO2 because it leaves no residual solvents behind in the manufacturing process—any remaining CO2 simply evaporates into the air. CBD is typically extracted from the hemp plant, but not from the seedy and tough industrial hemp you may be envisioning. Instead, CBD is extracted from cannabis plants that are painstakingly bred to have high amounts of CBD and very low amounts of THC. According to federal law, cannabis must contain less than 0.3% THC (the cannabinoid that is most associated with getting you high) to be considered legal hemp.  While CBD comes in many forms, the term “CBD oil” either refers to hemp extract before it is added to another product, or to a CBD tincture, which is CBD extract that is typically combined with a carrier oil.

Types of CBD Oil

CBD can be incorporated into a wide range of products including tinctures, topical products, gummies, vapes, and many more. There are three main types of CBD that can be found within these products, and each comes with a unique set of benefits and characteristics.

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CBD Isolate 

This type of CBD is typically sold in crystalline or powder form. It contains only pure CBD. The other cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis are refined away in the manufacturing process by isolating their specific heats. The benefit of CBD isolate is that, as a tasteless powder, it is incredibly easy to incorporate into a wide range of products without significantly impacting the flavor or texture. It is also good for those who are not interested in consuming any of the other compounds found in cannabis. CBD isolate can often be found in CBD gummies.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

If you see the term “full spectrum” on your CBD label, this indicates that the product contains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plants used within the formula. This includes cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, THC, and THCV and terpenes such as myrcene, beta caryophyllene, and linalool. Full spectrum CBD products are said to promote the entourage effect, a phenomenon discovered in 1998 when researchers observed that all of the cannabis compounds working together within the body could produce greater effects compared to a single cannabinoid. 

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Broad Spectrum CBD Oil 

This type of CBD contains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the whole plant but one—in broad spectrum products, all of the THC has been refined away in the manufacturing process. At the legal concentration of 0.3% or less, the trace amount of THC found in CBD oil is unlikely to get you high, but there are a few reasons why users may want to avoid THC altogether. Some are extremely sensitive to the effects of THC, while others may undergo drug testing for work or legal reasons. Either way, broad spectrum CBD is a good way to play it safe.

Benefits of CBD 

CBD has only been approved by the FDA to treat certain types of juvenile epilepsy. It has not yet been approved to treat or cure any other illness or disease, and it’s best to avoid any products that make unverified health claims. That said, there is a great deal of emerging research on the benefits of CBD, and users have reported a number of positive effects from regular consumption, including:

  • An improved sense of calm throughout the day
  • Better sleep at night
  • Improved post-workout recovery

CBD can also be used topically, and topical users have reported a number of positive effects on skin health as well as a positive influence on muscles and joints. 

How to Use CBD Oil

Now that you know a little more about CBD oil and its benefits, you may be wondering how you can start incorporating these products into your wellness routine. Like most new additions to your wellness regimen, it’s important to start out with a smaller serving of CBD and increase as needed for desired effects. CBD servings are typically measured in milligrams. Some users start out with as little as 5mg for their first time. Many CBD producers recommend starting with a serving size of one milligram per 10 pounds of body weight. For example, a 150-pound person may wish to start by taking a 15mg serving of CBD.  Certain products make estimating serving sizes easier than others. For example, one of the most popular CBD oil products is a tincture in a dropper bottle because it allows for easy measurement. While other tinctures are plant extracts dissolved into alcohol, CBD tinctures are typically CBD extract combined with a carrier oil such as olive or MCT oil. The product label should indicate the number of milligrams per milliliter, for example, 20mg/mL. At this concentration, the 150-pound user would draw 0.75 mL into the dropper bottle for a 15mg serving. 

Glass bottles of CBD tinctures on a plate next to hemp leaves Source: Shutterstock
CBD can be taken a variety of ways based on the products used. Tinctures are usually taken using the sublingual method, which consists of dropping CBD oil under the tongue and holding it there for 1-2 minutes before swallowing. This allows the cannabinoids to be absorbed by the thin membrane within the mouth before reaching the stomach. CBD can also be taken orally by simply swallowing a tincture directly, eating an edible like gummies or CBD chocolate (yes, CBD chocolate exists!), or consuming a CBD capsule such as a softgel.  Other methods of taking CBD include topical products like salves, creams, or lotions which can be applied to the skin, and inhaled products like vape cartridges and CBD flower, which can be smoked like any other type of dry cannabis.  CBD is a versatile cannabis product that many users are enjoying regularly for the wellness benefits it can promote. As research continues, we may find even more uses for this powerful plant extract.